Review | Food

House of Celeste: A Michelin and masala overload

Noshi's Mutton Mince

Noshi's Mutton Mince   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A promising new entrant, in need of a few tweaks

The first thing you are told about the House of Celeste is that it is a Michelin star chef restaurant. If you want to rest your laurels on a New York restaurant (Devi) that won a Michelin star and closed eight years ago, by all means do, but you will be judged for what you serve today. And to impress in a highly competitive market of progressive Indian cuisine — where you have the likes of Indian Accent and Spice Market — is difficult.

Whilst ‘ex’-Michelin Star chef Suvir Saran’s team executes dishes with excellent technique, a heavy hand with the masalas ruined many a dish. In fact, they got the complex dishes spot on; the simpler ones, where the ingredients should have been allowed to sing, were muzzled by masalas.

The vibe: Upmarket yet casual and comfortable, although I could not understand all the wildlife elements in the décor, as it neither relates to the name of the restaurant nor the food.

Do try: Executive Chef Vardaan Marwah previously worked at Gaggan, Bangkok, and its influence on him is evident in my two favourites at Celeste — the Masala Pebbles and Delhi 6 Clouds. The Masala Pebbles are a take on gol gappas and consist of shells made of white chocolate with saffron tart, tamarind chutney and chilli pineapple soup inside. The pebble shells were wafer thin and the hit of sweet and sour inside was perfect. The Delhi 6 Clouds, which remind you of an aloo chaat, again were remarkable — light, crunchy and with the right amount of everything.

Masala Pebbles

Masala Pebbles   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

From the mains, the Gun Powder Prawns with the millet khichdi was just on the edge in terms of spices, but the rest of what we ordered was disappointing.

For desserts, the Dodha Burfee with Valrhona chocolate and milk skin was excellent. The Dodha was chewy and caramelly and mixed perfectly with the chocolate. However, I was unable to understand the fuss around the milk skin: thin disks of milk cooked for 45 minutes each; it did not add much in terms of flavour or texture. The Mawa Cake was also good — very light and served with some good saffron ice cream.

Skip: Easy to fix, but so many of the dishes were overpowered by masalas — from the Spicy-Sweet-Sticky Shrooms which had three types of mushrooms and were otherwise cooked perfectly, to the Paneer Napolean which consisted of beautifully sliced thin layers of paneer but again with way too much masala.

Go with: Just about anybody and any occasion

Spacebar: 3,800 sq ft indoors and 1,000 sq ft outside; 120 covers

How much: ₹3,000 for two, excluding drinks

Getting there: Located at 32nd Milestone in Gurugram, no real public transport options. The restaurant I am sure will prefer you travel on Michelin tyres

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 2:29:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/why-house-of-celeste-has-promise/article30622925.ece

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